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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 20, May 8, 2010

Two Events in Tagore’s Life

Monday 10 May 2010, by A K Biswas


Attending a Namasudra Conference, Banned from
Entering Puri’s Jagannath Temple

It may not be news to many that the entry of the Tagores of Calcutta was banned in the Jagannath temple of Puri. At least many might have heard in whispers but disbelieved and dismissed it as slanderous gossip. Or not much importance was attached to it by them. However, hardly anybody would have heard in wild gossips that Rabindranath Tagore attended a caste conference which, ipso facto, would cause revulsion in every Indian. But this is a fact. Lack of widespread public knowledge in respect to such an important chapter of the poet’s life only succinctly underscores how Tagore has been cornered by a class of worldly-wise people for good business and commerce. They have discussed him only in part convenient and favourable to the perception of the elite and aristocratic class of Bengal.

I propose to divide this article into two parts: the first part deals with the poet’s participation in a caste conference; and part two discusses the law banning entry of Tagore in the Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa.


Poet in Namasudra Caste Conference

A precolonial official publication discloses that Rabindranath Tagore had gone to participate in a caste conference organised by the Namasudras. The conference was held in East Bengal, though the venue was not specified by the compilation. He attended the conference twelve years after he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913.

The poet breathed his last on August 7, 1941 at the age of 80 years. Twentyseven days after his demise, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation published its Calcutta Municipal Gazette Tagore Memorial Special Supplement under the editorship of Amal Home. The editor was one of poet’s close associates. The Tagore Memorial Special Supplement documented various facets of his life by phases and periods. It focuses on his long life of activities, achievements etc. The itinerary of Rabindranath’s visits to many places, home and abroad, have been carefully documented in the volume. The special supplement turned out to be immensely popular.

In East Bengal

In the phase 1925-1930, Rabindranath Tagore visited East Bengal [now Bangladesh]. The Special Memorial Supplement yields, inter alia, the following information of interest to us:

Goes to Dacca on 7th February at the invitation of the University; receives addresses from the Dacca Municipality, the Peoples Association and other bodies; speaks at several meetings and functions; also at Mymensingh; at Comilla presides over the anniversary of Abhay Ashram of Dr Suresh-chandra Banerjee; attends the Namasudra (Depressed Classes) conference; is warmly received at Agartala by Maharaj Kumar Brajendra Kishore of Tippera; on return to Santiniketan, his 65th birth- day (May 7, 1926) is celebrated by a gathering representative of many nations.....

[The Calcutta Municipal Gazette Tagore Memorial
Special Supplement, Saturday, September 3, 1941, editor Amal Home, p. 90]

Though the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s official mouthpiece discloses that the poet went to East Bengal in 1925 and participated in a conference organised by the Namasudras, it did not say anything about the venue of the conference even if this marks a striking turning point in the poet’s career. In the opinion or estimation of the compiler, it seems, the event did not occupy high a place to warrant detailed entry. Today discussion of caste in public or the media evokes sharp derision or scorn from people of erudition, culture and catholicity. In northern India, many superior castes are even now known to hold caste conferences annually. In Bengal too, such conferences were not rare or unknown as such. The Kayasthas, one of the Bengali tricastes, euphemistically called influential bhadralok, held a conference at Chittagong
in 1916. An ICS officer, Kiran Chandra Sen Verma, a Kayastha, was the then Commissioner, Chittagong Division. He had inaugurated their conference. Among others, many responsible government servants, judicial officers, zamindars, legal practitioners and school teachers from Bengal, Bihar and Orissa had attended the conference. A Bengali monthly, Kayastha Patrika,1 reported that it was largely attended by the Kayasthas.

The Namasudras, on the other hand, were untouchables till untouchability was formally abolished by the Indian Constitution. Till 1911, however, the caste was officially called Chandal. In Bengal they occupied (or even today do occupy) the lowest rung in the ladder of social hierarchy. No ancient scriptures, of which the Hindus are proud, ever uttered a word or ordinance free from abuse, hatred, contempt or invective against the caste. Tagore, nevertheless, was in their midst to attend a conference. Why? What prompted him to do so? There is golden silence in academic circles. No light appears to have ever been thrown on it though Tagore attended that conference of socially degraded people over eight decades ago. The event might have been even erased from the community memories of the Namasudras. The poet, I guess, did not participate in any other caste conference.

The poet was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1913. He was the first Indian to receive the honour from the Swedish Academy. He was as well the first Asian to win it. Hordes of rich, resourceful and accomplished people, not to speak of the masses, had invaded as well as chased him after he was declared the winner of the Prize. The winer was the grandson of the richest man of Calcutta, Dwaraka- nath Tagore, who in Europe was known as ‘Prince’. He was an aristocrat. A successful businessman, Dwarakanath Tagore had bought several estates across East Bengal and became one of the big landlords. His grandson and son of Debendranath Tagore, by all accounts and standards, too was an aristocrat and lived a secluded life in an ivory tower. His peers and social circles were drawn from similar affluent background. He has frankly admitted as well as regretted his inability to break the barrier raised and enforced by his aristocracy to reach the masses.

In such circumstances, the poet’s presence among the Namasudras in a public conference made it a spectacular event. But this has not yet received attention nor evoked curiosity of the scholars and researchers. The stock of the Namasudras in public eye was no better than that of the Chandals of the era of scriptures, epics and other fictions. The Bengali intelligentsia is ceaseless in research and analysis aimed at dissection and discovery of Tagore’s life, activities and works and overall philosophy in all its facets and dimension to fathom the depth and mysteries of the great man. People from other parts of India too along with a few foreigners have occasionally joined to explore the poet. There seems to be no abatement in the enthusiasm for Tagore. A vast mass, nay, mountain of literature that has been produced on the poet is enough to cause envy in the hearts of the giants and greats in the world of literature.

Nonetheless, Tagore’s participation in a Namasudra conference is not a piece of information worthy of elite curiosity, excitement and probe. If Prof Amartya Sen does so now, it will send out electrifying sensation all around indeed. But Bengal remained cold and apathetic to the event presided over by Tagore. Does it indicate a mindset? Was he ignored for treading in the prohibited zone and sharing the dais with the untouchable, heathen Chandals? We cannot imagine that he was spared for what he did with equanimity of mind and a philanthropic heart. His detractors must have bayed for his blood for soiling the image and dignity of the bhadralok.


The presence of the Bengali Nobel Laureate amongst the despised Namasudras alongside a visit to the Dacca University on invitation, civic reception, public attention and applauses in mellifluous voices and intonations of well anointed young men and women, accompanied by songs and dances of artful performers, looks like an amalgam of contradictions. The Namasudra conference, in other words, sounds like a square peg in a round hole in the ambiance of his East Bengal tour. People fondly recall how the poet wrote his famous, soulful lyric “ei kothati mone rekho, ami je gan geyechhilem, shukno pata jhorar belay....... [Remember, I sung this song for you, while the dry leaves were falling off....]” in the company students on the lawns of the Dacca University. It is only natural to assume that the elite society of Calcutta and country denounced Tagore for the misadventure! Bengalis took pleasure in insinuating that there was Portuguese blood running in the veins and arteries of Rabindranath Tagore.2 He did not visit East Bengal ever again thereafter.

To reach Rabindranath Tagore and secure an appointment for attending a conference of the untouchables must have been an uphill task for the Namasudras and this ipso facto shows their organising skill and prudence. We know how the contemporary Nobel Laureate, Prof Amartya Sen, remains surrounded, on his occasional visits to India, by great and avid scholars and is chased and shadowed by the media. That leaves little room for the commoners to reach him. In this respect, Tagore remains unrivalled: he kept his doors open for the lowest and poorest to approach him unhindered. Rabindranath, however, was aware of the social disabilities the Namasudras suffered and had mentioned it in his essays with proper understanding a number of times.

An American journalist, Katherine Mayo, observed in her highly controversial Mother India (1927) that about 4900 Namasudra boys were studying in matriculation standards whereas some 200 were already graduates. Their untouchability stood against them in getting hostel accommodation for higher education. As a result, the Calcutta University authorities were obliged to hire separate accommodation for them to facilitate their education in the city. In 1929, a joint delegation of the Bengal Depressed Classes Association and All-Bengal Namasudra Association deposed before the Simon Commission. They appraised the Commission that their boys were not allowed admission in schools wholly located in upper-caste quarters. Their wards on way to schools were waylaid, assaulted and books snatched away by upper-caste boys. If at all admitted, they were segregated; denied drinking water from the common sources in schools. The Commissioners were also told that doctors refused to visit untouchable patients; even postal employees did not deliver mails in depressed quarters. They cited in their oral deposition to the Commission how, as a result of manipulations and favouritism, undergraduate kiths and kins of the upper-castes were preferred to Namasudra graduates in employment by the local government. This was done on the plea of lack of merit and suitability of the depressed/untouchable graduates for the jobs on offer.

Bengali scholars and littérateurs were expected to reveal what really inspired the poet to go to the Namasudras. What did he speak to them in the conference? Did he have a message of social and political or ethical import for them? What did, on the contrary, the Namasudras tell their honourable guest in their address presented to the Nobel Laureate? Did the contemporary media cover the event as breaking news? Or did the media or intelligentsia altogether cold-shoulder the poet’s role for the socially despised and deprived people? Today the intellectual class voluntarily comes forward to play a powerful, proactive role in highlighting as also upholding human rights, dignity and values. And in this Rabindranath could be counted as the pioneer in Bengal. There is hardly any record of his contemporaries, who risked taking a pubic a stand for the Chandals who have been pilloried over centuries in every literature held as sacred since ancient times.


Some of these questions kept agitating me. I did not get anybody to reply to these queries. I had once even written in the 1990s to one of the Vice-Chancellors of the Viswa Bharati, Santiniketan, whom I knew personally, to elicit some information on this area. Likewise Faculty members in the Bengali Department of a few universities and scholars well-versed on Tagore too were approached, but they could be of little help to me. One who was the topper in MA Bengali of the Calcutta University told me that though he had read almost everything published on Tagore, he did not come across such information. He was modest and did not betray any superciliousness.3

The Namasudras were untouchables, numbering 20,06,259 in the 1921 census. They were Bengal’s second largest caste. The Mahishyas, aggregating 22,10,684 souls, were numerically superior.4 The erstwhile Chandals in Bengal suffered three-fold disabilities: They “are denied access to the interior of ordinary Hindu temples; cause pollution, by touch or within a certain distance; and are not served by good Brahmans are family priests”.5 Anthropologist and Commissioner of Census Herbert Risley had observed that the descendants of converts from Chandals and Pods to Islam in Bengal numbered at least nine million in 1901.6 We may just add in the passing that the Muslim majority in Bengal, that invited partition in 1947, was solely attributable to the conversion of the Chandals and Pods to Islam. The former,
some British anthropologists believe, were offshoots of the the latter. High-caste Hindu persecution, hatred, exploitation and lack of social equality drove them to embrace Islam How and why did Tagore rush amongst them? Did he not face cascades of opposition, snide remarks and vitriolic aspersions from the elite and intelligentsia? How did he come to empathise with the Chandals, who are the epitome of the vilest of the vile and meanest of the mean in Hindu perception?

Bengalis have not lost interest in Tagore yet. May I wish someone would turn his attention to this issue and lay bare, in proper perspective, the role that Tagore played for the untouchables in Bengal? That would bring out the inclusive kaleidoscopic worldview of one of the unrivalled humanists India has ever seen.


Tagores’ Entry Banned in Jagannath Temple, Puri

“.....if there be rebirth may I not be born in Bengal again.”

—Rabindranath Tagore

The Tagores of Calcutta were the richest in the metropolis. As already indicated, they were nevertheless banned entry into the sacred Jagannath temple at Puri, Orissa. They were Pirali Brahmans, a degraded class in the Bengali priestly hierarchy. Their story of degradation would involve a large space to detail which I would avoid as it is by and large known to the people of Bengal. The entry of the Tagores in the sacred shrine was officially banned. It is rarely discussed in public glare and, therefore, remains a guarded secret in the shelves of the archives. A law in this behalf was enacted by the British Government in 1809.

Lord Wellesley, the Governor General of the East India Company, ordered a campaign against Orissa, then under Maratha rule, in September 1803. In fourteen days Lieutenant Colonel Campbell conquered Orissa and marched with his Army to Pipli three-to-four miles off Puri. There they camped for sometime. A delegation of priests of Lord Jagannath of Puri called on the commanding officer of the victorious Army. According to Swami Dharam Teerth,

[........] the oracle of the Puri Jagannath Temple proclaimed that it was the desire of the deity that the temple too be controlled by the (East India) Company and the latter undertook to maintain the temple buildings, pay the Brahmans and do everything for the service of the deity as was customary.7

Regulation IV was enacted in 1806 and the East India Company imposed a pilgrim tax for entry into Puri.8 Regulation IV, which received assent of the Governor General on April 28, 1809, debarred castes, for example, Lolee or Kusbee, Cullal or Soonree Machoowa, Nomosooder or Chandal, Gazoor, Baugdee, Joogee or Noorbauf, Kahar Bawrey or Doolia, Raujbunsee, Peerally, Chaumar, Dome, Paun, Teor, Bhooimalee and Hadee from entry in the temple.9 The Tagores were Peerally [now spelt as Pirali] Brahmans, who were degraded in the Bengali hierarchical pretension and orthodoxy. However, Regulation XI of 1810 exempted the Peerally from the scope of the ban.

Who actually were the advisers of the Trading Company that prohibited by the Regulation the Tagores from entering the Puri shrine? The Company ab initio had the benefit of native law officers, both Hindu as well as Muslim, to advise them on matters of religious and social concern. Well-versed in scriptures, the law officers tendered advice to the government on all matters having bearing on the society, religion or internal structures of community life, lest, due to ignorance, they offend the scruples of any section by actions repugnant to the scriptures and norms or convention.
A long list of Hindu officers serving in various courts would reveal that most, if not all, were Brahmans.

The Regulation adopted in 1806 and that in 1809 were hardly different. A schedule of castes was incorporated in section VII of Regulation IV of 1809 applying ban on the entry of certain castes. Some castes, for example, Dom, Chamar, Namasudra, Bagdi, and Hari were common in Bengal as well as Orissa. There were castes like Rajbanshi, Jogi, Peerali, Sunri, Buimali and Dulia who were/are not natives of Orissa. They were out and out natives of Bengal. Who had advised the East India Company to ban the entry of non-Oriya untouchable castes in the shrine? A neighbour hates or envies his neighbour in social intercourse. He does not hate someone living at a far-off place. If that were the case, Oriya advisers would have devoted attention more to their own neighbours than Bengali untouchables in the Regulation. Logically considered, none other than Bengali Brahman advisers could have suggested for banning the entry in the Puri temple of castes, for example, Rajbanshi, Jogi, Peerali, Sunri, Buimali and Dulia in the Regulation.

Left solely to the East India Company to frame the law on entry into the Jagannath shrine, they would encourage all to visit it as more pilgrims come under the tax net. That ensured more money flowing in the coffers. They loved business but not the caste of the visitors.

This view that Bengali Brahmans were the more dominant sections of advisers in the matter is strengthened by the case of exclusion of the Pirali Brahman from the list of castes eligible for temple entry. It was they who enjoyed devilish pleasure by degrading and stigmatising them in an institutional structure. Any Bengali Hindu, whose caste has been tainted by wilful or inadvertent intercourse with people of other religions, mainly Islam, was called Pirali. The Tagores’ misfortune on this score owes its origin to an episode during the Mughal era. An ancestor of the Tagore dynasty, it is said, had a land dispute in the district of Jessore [now in Bangladesh] with a relation. A revenue official, Amin, had called both the parties to his camp for mediation. The Tagore in dispute went and smelt beef which was being cooked in the Amin’s kitchen. Smelling in Bengal is considered equivalent to half-eating. So the Tagore lost his caste for half-eating the beef. The stigmatised Tagores came to be identified as Pirali Brahman after the Amin, named Pir Ali Khan, and suffered social stigma for generations not excluding Rabindranath. Their glowing achievements and accomplishments in education, scholarship, art and culture, trade and commerce remained unsurpassed. But they were more like social lepers in the orthodox scale in Bengal. So much so that they never married their daughters into kulin (superior) Brahman families. Nor did they allow and welcome kulin brides into the Tagore family. The marriage of Rabindranath’s youngest daughter, Mira, is a case in point. She was married to a kulin, Nagendra Nath Ganguly (Gangopadhyay), and it was a disaster. She had a miserable, stormy life as it floundered ab initio. Letters exchanged between Tagore and his daughter as well as son-in-law speak eloquently about the unfortunate state of their marriage. It caused deep agony and excruciating pain and helplessness for the sensitive and affectionate father who could not intervene in it anyway.

The Poet abhorred Rebirth as a Bengali

It may sound improbable that the poet, who composed most touching verses, songs and novels, plays and short stories for or in the backdrop of Bengal, at the end of the day became extremely wary of the Bengali people. His detractors drove him up the wall. They hurt him mercilessly where he was most vulnerable. And he bled profusely: they savagely targeted his literary works which were the edifice of his creativity and glory. When the Nobel Prize was conferred on Tagore the detractors in a mad rush scrambled for demonstrating their admiration by offering memorials to him on behalf of his countrymen. This offered him the opportunity for some plain talk.

The calumny and insults from the hands of my countrymen which have fallen to my lot have not been very small in amount. Till now I have borne all this in silence. In such circumstances, I am yet unable to understand fully how I have come to receive the honour which I have got from abroad?

He adds further:

How can I shamelessly appropriate to myself the honour which you are making to me as representatives of the country? This day of mine will not last forever. The ebb-tide will set in again. Then all the squalor will expose of the muddy bottom itself bank after bank.

Finally he delivered the shot with perfect equanimity of mind:

So I submit this to you with folded hands that I would place my head on whatever is true, however harsh that might be; but I am unable to that which is a delusion created by momentary excitement. In certain countries friends and guests are welcomed with wine. You have placed before me a goblet of wine of your honour. I shall raise it to my lips, but I cannot gulp down this heady draught to take into my heart. I want to keep my mind free from this intoxication.

When the Nobel Prize was announced the poet was in England; he was very much hesitant to return to India for fear of torture and mudslinging at him by his gifted Bengali detractors. Eminence has its own price. It infuriates the pygmy and the prodigious alike. They could not get over the shock and awe of Tagore being crowned with the glory he earned by his own talent and toil.

The Bengali intelligentsia had harassed, humiliated and persecuted Tagore all his life no matter he was the first Indian Nobel Prize winner. His literary abilities were questioned and ridiculed with insinuations and innuendos no end. They even asked him if he had engaged paid agents to spread his fame and campaign for him.

This sort of suspicion is possible only in Bengal. It is here that people whisper that I won the Nobel Prize by a subtle trick, and the English compositions of mine which have gained fame were written by a certain Englishman.10

This was a letter the poet wrote 16 years after he was crowned with the glory. They did not believe nor did they relish that Tagore, who lacked formal education in schools, colleges and universities, had won the Nobel Prize.

The attacks against him were mindless and brutal. If anybody still needs further confirmation of his detractors’ firepower, we may cite another quote in support. Tagore wrote on February 8, 1930 in a letter:

People in this country do not forgive until the pulse has completely ceased to beat. But such is my misfortune that Yama sends his messenger, and never his chariot. So those who would have sent forth lamentations at memorial meetings will now vituperate at literary conferences.11 (Italicised by this writer)

Can we fathom the depth of frustration and helplessness of the sensitive poet? The same class of Bengalis are now furiously and ceaselessly engaged on him in research, analysis and documentation since his death till date. For the same class of Bengalis, no event of song, dance, drama, theatre, art, culture, sociology, philosophy, politics, and, of course, literature would be considered appropriate and wholesome or complete without profuse and reckless doses of Tagore here, there and everywhere.

A letter of September 14, 1934 reveals how Tagore abhorred rebirth as a Bengali again. He called himself an outcast. His poignant letter goes:

I have almost brought to its end the span of life in my Bengali birth. And the last prayer of my tired life is that if there be rebirth may I not be born in Bengal again. [........] I am an outcast, let my lot be cast among those whose conduct does not conform to the Shastras (scriptures), but whose judgment is consistent with Dharma (righteousness).12 (Italicised by this writer)

What a tragedy! The most shining emblem of colonial India that made every Indian proud was out and out terrorised and traumatised by his native folks: the disillusioned poet did not want a rebirth, if at all, in Bengal. He was certainly not against rebirth. But he did not want a rebirth in Bengal. What a tribute to the Bengali elite, aristocracy and intelligentsia in the culture of the province! The ancestral home thereby has been portrayed in the deepest hue in a manner no one can match in condemnation.

Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), we may recall, was awarded the Nobel Prize for his novel Dr Zhivago in 1958. The fiction invited strong protests across the USSR against the Jewish author who was condemned as anti-Marxist and critic of the Stalinist style of governance by terror and torture. There was universal demand for his banishment from Soviet Russia. A deeply shaken Pasternak wrote poignantly to the USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev: “Leaving the motherland will equal my death for me. I am tied to Russia by birth, by life and by work.” Under duress, the novelist declined to receive the prestigious Nobel Prize.13

Tagore, on the contrary, was under no such regimented pressure or totalitarian threat of banishment. He too was tied by birth, by life and by work to Bengal. He loved his country too deeply. He was ecstatic about his ‘Sonar Bengal’. and his works bear glowing testimony to his abiding love and attachment. Those belonging to his own social class were his inveterate enemies who weighed so heavily on him that he could risk a rebirth in Bengal again. He dreaded a rebirth in Bengal in the company of the Bengalis.

Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) was the first Law Member of the East India Company Government and responsible for the sweeping reforms in Indian education and father of the Indian Penal Code that had far-reaching consequences on the subcontinent. Perceived as an epitome of imperial arrogance and superciliousness, he had portrayed the Bengali character in most unflattering language even before Rabindra- nath Tagore was born. He has been bitterly criticised for his trenchant views as an anti-Indian. His assessment left the Bengalis fully demented. One must understand that Macaulay did not get to know the common man. He came in touch with the upper social echelons and intellectual class only. So his assessment precisely reflects them alone, not the common man. Now having regard for Tagore’s lifelong agony, humiliation, bitterness and ignominy at the hands of the same elite and intelligentsia, one would hesitate to dismiss Macaulay with contempt as a flag-bearer of the Empire. He wrote:

What the horns are to the buffalo, what the paw is to the tiger, what the sting to the bee, what beauty [......] is to woman, deceit is to the Bengalee. Large promises, smooth promises, elaborate tissues of circumstantial falsehood, chicanery, perjury, forgery, are the weapons of the Lower Ganges.14

Indians hate Macaulay. They worship Tagore. But what Tagore said was materially little different from Macaulay. Imagine Tagore’s prayer, stunning as it were mere seven years before his death: “If there be rebirth may I not be born in Bengal again.” We can’t brush it aside nor throw a colourful tapestry over the character of those Bengalis who terrorised him to feel unwelcome in the land of his birth.


1. Kayastha Patrika, a Bengali monthly magazine published from Calcutta, carried a detailed report in its issue. This journal started its publication in the closing years of the 19th century.

2. Nirod C. Chaudhuri, in an article captioned “Tagore Nobel Prize” in Illustrated Weekly, Bombay, Vol. XCV, 10, Sunday, March 11, 1973.

3. He was an IAS officer.

4. Census of India, 1931, Vol. 1, Bengal & Sikkim, Part 1, Report, p. 492.

5. Census of India, 1911, Vol. V, Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Sikkim, Part 1, Report, pp. 232-233.

6. Census of India, 1901

7. Swami Dharam Teerth, History of Hindu Imperialism, 1935, p. 151. W. W Hunter recorded: “A deputation of Brahmans accordingly came into the camp, and placed the temple under his (Lt. Colonel Campbell) protection
without a blow being struck.” [A Statistical Account of Bengal, Cuttack & Puri, Vol. XIX, 1877, London]

8. Between 1806 to 1831, the pilgrims tax, grossed to a sum of Rs 1,24,37,570; expenditures on the temple management and rituals on average, amounted to Rs 54,973 per annum. Meeting all expenses on account of the Jagannath temple, the Company earned a balance of Rs. 12,83,130. [Col. Laurie, “Puri and the temple of Jagannath”, article in The Calcutta Review, Vol. X, September, 1848, pp. 251 and 261] The tax was ultimately was revoked on vocal criticism of the Christian Missionaries and Englishmen who were aghast at the role played by the Government of East India Company in promoting, preserving and protecting idolatry. Indians could not be expected to be vocal against the British control, management of the Jagannath and his temple as blind faith in His oracle was blindly obeyed by them. Further similar tax by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the medieval era has received harsh criticism. But the pilgrim tax imposed long later has been spared from focus in the same vein. This myopia is calculative. The historians do not want to expose the advisers of the takeover of the shrine and consequent tax regime under the legal frame.

9. Names shown as it occurred in the Regulation. Current spelling of these castes are given: Loli or Kasbi, Kalal or Sunri, Machua, Namasudra, Gazur, Jogi or Narbaf, Kahar Bauri, Dulia, Rajbansi, Chamar, Dom, Pan, Tior, Bhuimali and Hari.

10. Rabindranath Tagore in a letter dated October 29, 1931, quoted by.Nirod C. Chaudhuri, in an article captioned “Tagore Nobel Prize” in Illustrated Weekly, Bombay, Vol. XCV 10, Sunday, March 11, 1973, pp. 9-10.

11. Ibid., p. 10.

12. Ibid.

13. for heading Boris Pasternak (1890-1960).

14. Lord Thomas Macaulay, Critical, Historical and Miscellaneous Essays, Boston, 1860, pp. 19-20.

The author is a former Vice-Chancellor, B.R. Ambedkar University, Muzaffarpur (Bihar). He can be contacted at e-mail:

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